Friday, June 30, 2023

Yes, the Catcher Can Block the Plate with a Drawn-In Infield

After Reds baserunner R3 Elly De La Cruz was confirmed out on a play at home plate that Cincinnati manager David Bell unsuccessfully challenged for both a violation of the home plate collision rule and HP Umpire Jeff Nelson's tag out/safe call after ruling the runner never touched home plate, we were asked if Padres catcher Gary Sanchez's position was, indeed, legal.

Replays indicate that when Reds batter Nick Senzel hit a ground ball to Padres shortstop Xander Bogaerts, San Diego's infield was drawn in, anticipating a play at the plate. Bogaerts' throw to Sanchez arrived as Reds runner R3 De La Cruz slid headfirst into home, but Sanchez's left foot, positioned in front of home plate, effectively blocked De La Cruz from reaching it, resulting in the tag out.

The question, thus, is whether Sanchez violated baseball's home plate collision rule. Official Baseball Rule 6.01(i)(2) very specifically addresses this situation: "...It shall not be considered a violation of this Rule 6.01(i)(2) if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in a legitimate attempt to field the throw (e.g., in reaction to the direction, trajectory or the hop of the incoming throw, or in reaction to a throw that originates from a pitcher or drawn-in infielder)."

Thus, even though Sanchez may have physically blocked De La Cruz from scoring, this blocking was legal pursuant to the throw that originates from a drawn-in infielder part of the rule.


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